Thursday, January 18, 2018

Living Water



Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, ‘Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John’— although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’ John 4:1-15

Living Water

In this high desert whitened winter
the deep dryness hidden by snow
we gather around moving streams
we circle like birds over a fallen prey.

Clouds have obscured our light
aching cold has frozen our sources
we feel the pain of starvation
we lack love and joy in our bones.

The nutrients of health are missing
from the climate of our conversation
we fear for our daily bread and meat
even though it is a land of plenty.

Let us seek together that ancient well
the spring of living water from on high
the gift that is holy and restorative
given by God to enemy and friend alike.






Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Increase and Decrease


After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized—John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.
Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath. John 3:22-36

We who are leaders in the church are called to be humble, yet all too often we think of ourselves as having great power and influence, acting more like politicians and CEOs. If we have any power or influence at all it comes from the love of God, working in and through us. This is a great reason to be very humble, not judging others or acting superior to them. People need servant leaders, now more than ever.

John is being questioned by religious leaders and his disciples. They wanted to draw John into competition with Jesus, wanting him to exercise his influence and power. Instead, he demonstrated his humility and his understanding of God's movement in the present moment. The world needed Jesus and was sent by God to bring healing and redemption to a world of violence and oppression. We are invited by God to be leaders who can make room for the activity and love of God working in our world today.

I ask God to help me always be a servant leader, putting the love of Christ and the needs of the world always first. May we who have influence and power use it to serve always so that the Divine love might be known again in our time.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Light Has Come


Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” John 3:16-21

The Light Has Come

Like distant celestial bodies
we circle around seemingly alone
in our private orbits of sorrow
with no way to get ourselves home.

The winter darkness descended deep
failure and isolation our companions
we squint in our shadowed dwellings
afraid to be exposed as so incomplete.

Yet light has found us in our hiding place
love has sought us out and sat down
here at our table of seeming disaster
the holy has deemed to dwell.






Monday, January 15, 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King Day - The Wind Blows


When Jesus was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” John 2:23 – 3:15 (NRSV)

I grew up with this speech on my lips. "I have a dream" and I was fortunate to meet Dr. King as a child. I know that some thing dreams only to be the activity of our subconscious and our inner self, yet I am convinced that dreams come on the wind, a gift and challenge of the Holy Spirit. God works even when we sleep and we often hear and see best when we are silent and at rest. I have been dreaming about new possibilities and new challenges. The dream can die or we can put ourselves in the middle of this destructive world and sing until the dream is carried world wide again on the wind.

Jesus invites a night visitor, Nicodemus, that he must be born again. Born again of the Spirit. The very committed religious leader is overwhelmed by Jesus' challenge as are we. Yet God invites us all to be born again of the Holy Spirit, not once, but daily. We are called, now more than ever, to listen to the Spirit, on the wind, in our dreams, and in the voice of our children, and be born again so that we might live for others. We must be born again daily so God can use us for the healing and redemption of the world.

Today, I ask God to wash over me, take away my pride and attitudes and fill me again with the Holy Spirit. May the nightmares of our times be replaced by the dream of God, that all children, from every nation and culture, might be blessed with freedom, and be filled with God's love.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Nazareth?

Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”  John 1:43-51

This reading was designated for Thursday Morning Prayer as well as the Gospel for today. At first, I wasn't going to write again, but in light of recent statements by our "leader", I think it is critical to reflect some more on this passage. We have both a lesson about call and a lesson of where God dwells. We have much to learn in this land of ours, especially on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nathanael speaks of Nazareth as a ****hole town, a place thought to be of no value, no consequence, useless and backward in every way. He questions his friend Philip as to the value of this man who was a "supposed" messiah. Nathanael voices what his whole world thought. And yet, this is where God  incarnate dwells, in the places where no one would look or expect. In the ruined and crime torn places, God incarnate dwells, and see us under the protection of our fig trees, thinking our cruel thoughts. We are invited today, in this season to know that God calls all people and places good, and holy. From the humblest of places, the voice of God came and is to come.

Today, I ask God to help me disregard no one or no place but seek the holy in every moment in every person. May we know God as we are in relationship with those most different from us. And may we welcome, with the love we have been given, all those who come to our communities for help and sanctuary.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Zeal for your House


The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. John 2:13-22

These days there are so many real estate shows on television, history might record that all of us worried about property and design. Folks in following generations might wonder if all we worried about was money as well. Truly, we can be known by what we put our time and energy into. We can make our lives invitational or transactional, caring only about how much we will gain from any interaction. We can worry so much about looks that the heart is lost completely.

Jesus enters the temple and all he can see is the transactions. There were many rules and regulations, and the pilgrims that came from afar had to use certain currency and special sacrifices. The life of faith was controlled by the bankers of the time. We can find ourselves in the self-same situation. We can be run by budgets or we can be motivated by faith and spirit. Sometimes we have to actively make that choice.

Today, I ask God to help me choose faith and spirit in all things. May we not be like the moneychangers, but rather those who walk in faith, welcoming all and making room in the most humble of places.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Doing What Mom Says


On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days. John 2:1-12

There are situations that children find themselves in, when one's mother is present.  No matter the age, we find it impossible to resist her direction, and we as Moms know how powerful our words can be. We sometimes see in our young the potential they don't see. All too often though, our words seem like orders rather than encouragement. We ache so much for you children's thriving that we can, at times, be harsh when tenderness is needed. Balance in the parenting world is often hard, no matter how young or old or children might be.

Jesus has his first miracle at his mother's insistence.  The Gospel openly recalls his initial refusal. The Incarnate God, who was fully human, felt reluctant and hesitant in his calling, just as we often do. It is hard for us to picture the Savior of the world as tentative and uncomfortable. Yet, we all can envision moments when we faltered, were hesitant and lacked confidence. We often find ourselves there now. Yet, Jesus had a push, a nudge, a loving direction. And we all need those today, as we move together in service of God's love.

Today I ask God to give me the gift of those who will lovingly nudge me and encourage the gifts I have been given. May we all be fearless as we encourage others, knowing that the gifts given by God are to be used for the good of the world.



Thursday, January 11, 2018

Anything Good?


The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” John 1:43-51

Anything Good?

The child of abundance
clothed in splendor leans in
to a full and abundant refrigerator
asking "anything good?"

The child of the streets
shivers at night gazing up
mumbling prayers to God
and asks for anything good to happen.

We are children of abundance
in a desert dry without tenderness
we fill our hearts with goods
leaving no room for anything good.

From the poverty and sidelined Nazareth
we received gift upon gift
freely given love for the least of us
everything good is here with us now.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What's in a Name?












The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 

The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). John 1:35-42

I am named Carol Joy after my mother's sister and because I was born on Christmas Eve.  There have been times when I have enjoyed my name and other times when I haven't, especially during my teen years. Most Indigenous tribes have traditions about naming, and a person might find themselves with several names in a given lifetime. Names can tie us down to a certain historical period or a family. A name can be trouble or gift depending upon the circumstances we face.

The people who followed Jesus were looking for many things.  He opened his life to them, not separating himself from them but inviting and including, making room for their needs and insights. He gave Simon a new name which means rock. He saw in him the potential of a solid, strong leader even though there were days when he was none of those things. He saw him grounded and faithful, even though some days he would be sorely tested.

Today, I ask God to help me be grounded and faithful, despite the many challenges before me. May we all know that each has been called by name, and loved before our very first breath. May we be grounded and solid, despite all the weather and changes which are thrown at us.


Monday, January 8, 2018

Grace Upon Grace


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. John 1:1-18 

Whenever I get ready to travel, and anytime I feel unsettled or insecure, I return to the ocean. We have a vast coastline here in Massachusetts which is stunningly beautiful even in the coldest moments. My heart and home are by the ocean, even though my family doesn't have a home there any longer. It is for me a place close to the " Father's heart". The place from which we all came in so many ways and which we depend on for our survival. We may not realize it, but the welfare of the ocean is the welfare of all humanity. We have watched it this week, in the midst of the storm, crash angrily on the shores and flood many places, never before flooded.

From the beginning, we learn, Jesus was in the midst of Creation, a part of the the gifts of life for all of us. And grace and forgiveness then were there in creation, a heart for compassion and love which guides us all. Moses had to bring laws but Jesus brought the light of love, which surpassed and eclipsed the rigidity of structure. God invites us, in this season of Epiphany, to renew our lives by finding those places and people who renew our belonging to the father's heart where grace upon grace resides. We are invited to step beyond the things which destroy life and light, and move towards love unbounded.

Today, I ask God to help me live truly close to the God's heart. May my life reflect the grace given, the light shared and the love made known. May we live as children of a loving and living God who was present from the very beginning and is with us in every breath we take.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Epiphany 1 - Final Mary letter


John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:4-11

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I am writing in haste and trembling as I do. Our world is completely shaken up. One of the contingent from the East, who we had been enjoying so much, had a dream that they should flee, and we should also. Rumors have arrived in their camp that Herod would kill our little Jesus. He thinks he's the competition!  Some people are so needy for power and control that they have to destroy any good thing or person who might detract from them. I am sick in my heart, Auntie. Joseph woke from his sleep, early this morning to say we must go now. Not home, but we must run away quickly into Egypt where the rulers here have no authority. Oh, I wanted to go home do much. I am trying to be brave but I am terrible at it.

The generosity of strangers is amazing, though. We had so little and yet, with the many gifts we have been given, we will have food and shelter for our journey. I do not know how long we will have to be away. Joseph is packing as I write. I am enclosing a letter for Mama and Papa, which I hope you will deliver after a few days. They were so worried when we left and now, oh my, I feel like they need us more than ever. I need them so and just want to go home. This child is such a gift from God, Auntie, yet some people would hurt and destroy all the good that God gives us. I cannot see the future, but I know, deep in my heart, that Jesus will be all that God promised us, if we can just keep him safe for now. The cost is pretty high, though, and I ache to be wrapped in Mama's arms right now. Please tell her that!

Don't try to find us. We will be in touch when we are settled and safe, but it may be awhile. Please pray for us. Pray that I can be strong. And please visit Mama soon and tell her God goes with us and we will see one another again.

Much love,

Mary

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Ephiphany - Mary letter 33

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
`And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:1-12 

Dear Auntie,

We had the most extraordinary night! I still cannot believe it!  Although we have had more visitors than I would have ever imagined, these were unreal! Long after midnight a young man came into our rooms, as they are. He was dressed as from a foreign country and his speech was not local but his voice was beautiful. He asked if we would pardon the interruption but he was the herald for some important visitors. We could not refuse, we were so fascinated and in awe. In came three elders, adorned in silk and the finest wool, festooned with jewel encrusted turbans, their long robes being held aloft by young boys. They seemed to have traveled with a whole army of servants. They invited us outside to their tents. When we went outside,we saw that they had erected a huge and magnificent tent with bright colors and thick carpeting on the floors. They beckoned in to follow them and sat us down on magnificent soft sofas. Then, to our initial alarm, they knelt and raised voiced in prayers and thanksgiving for the boy. He smiled at them through sleepy eyes and they gave him incredible gifts. A small fortune!

They are resting now and I have just put the baby down for a rest. Here, in this humble place, these amazing men found us and brought us priceless gifts! I am overjoyed but Joseph seems very worried. Neither of us slept much after all that! Joseph plans to sit with them today and discuss their travels and their encounter with King Herod! Can you believe it? They are the kind that kings and princes give audience to and they are here, camped around us! The landlord was beside himself at first, but they offered him gifts of rare fruits and delicacies and he too is now thrilled. I still cannot believe all that has happened.

much love,


Mary

Friday, January 5, 2018

Christmas 1 - Mary letter 32



“I called to the LORD out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
You cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
how shall I look again
upon your holy temple?’
The waters closed in over me;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped around my head
at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the Pit,
O LORD my God.
As my life was ebbing away,
I remembered the LORD; and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.
Those who worship vain idols forsake their true loyalty. But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Deliverance belongs to the LORD!” Jonah 2:2-9 


Dear Auntie Elizabeth,

I was so sick yesterday that I was afraid I couldn't feed the baby or be a good mother. The wise women came and gave me some broth, late in the day and I seemed somewhat better by evening. They think some of the food our relatives brought might have been too strange for my stomach. I do not have much energy but can sit up and feed the baby today easily, though I can't do much else. They brought a wet nurse yesterday for one or two feedings, so I could sleep. They were so helpful and I have grown very fond of these gifted and special women. What would I have done without them? And Joseph, I know he is grateful for their help. He was terribly frightened when I was very sick and fretted as to what he should do.

We are growing as a family everyday and it seems like more than a few weeks that we have been parents, and a true couple. How could I ever live without either of them? We have grown close, and despite our still sometimes awkwardness around one another, Joseph and I laugh often and hold each other close as we fall asleep. Oh I miss my family, but I also have a family now. We belong together, this much is very evident to me. I still catch Joseph looking over at us with wonder, as I sometimes gaze at him holding the baby, and think how blessed I truly am.

Sending much love,

Mary

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Chritmas 1 - Mary letter 31



Lord, you were favorable to your land;
   you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
   you pardoned all their sin.
You withdrew all your wrath;
   you turned from your hot anger.


Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
   and put away your indignation towards us.
Will you be angry with us for ever?
   Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
   so that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O 
Lord,
   and grant us your salvation.


Let me hear what God the
Lord will speak,
   for he will speak peace to his people,
   to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
   that his glory may dwell in our land.


Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
   righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
   and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The
Lord will give what is good,
   and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him,
   and will make a path for his steps. Psalm 85


Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

We had a visit yesterday from some of Joseph's relatives that live nearby. They hadn't seen him since he was a small boy! It was a wonderful visit and I am worn out from my time with them. They had many stories to tell, and frightened us a bit by telling us that the Roman governor was hearing word of a Jewish king that was born here in Bethlehem. Our relatives comforted us by saying that they would never look for us in a place like this! They had heard of our location because of knowing the inn keeper here. And it's true, these are humble dwellings for a king! Our little one doesn't seem to notice one way or another.

We have been talking about going home soon. The wise women don't want me to move too soon, but we are sure ready to be working our way home. We may have to find a long way round just for safety's sake, after hearing of the ruler's concern, but I for one am looking to be back home with Mama. I wish she had taught me more about caring for a baby! Or maybe she did and I wasn't listening! Hope you are well and keeping up your prayers for us. I feel as if I have so much to learn these days.

much love,

Mary

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Christmas 1 - Mary letter 30


When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. Luke 2:15-21

Dear Mama and Papa,

yesterday was the day we took the baby to the temple for his dedication. The wise women were bustling around me to make sure I was strong enough to go to the temple, and they took special care to dress the boy and to say their prayers and blessings before we left. We had to hurry since they almost made us late. The rabbi was very patient with us and explained everything. Once he did I felt a little queasy! Joseph was strong for both of us and I looked away so I wouldn't faint. The men made a pretty tight circle, the women moving back and out of the ceremony, and I was glad of it! Jesus was so good and only whimpered. I really ached to grab him and run even though I knew we were doing the right thing. Mother's instincts are very strong and I am feeling so protective.

Afterwards, when we were heading home, two elders named Simeon and Anna, stopped us at the steps of the Temple. They told us they had been waiting for us, for this child. Their prayers were answered in seeing him and holding him. They were so gentle and kind, I couldn't refuse when they asked to hold him. They said prayers over him that were so sweet and kind. We were both moved to tears! God always seems to provide unexpected and remarkable encounters to remind us we are never alone!

I asked Simeon to write his prayer down for us. I wanted to share it with you!


Lord, you now have set your servant free 
    to go in peace as you have promised;
For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior,
    whom you have prepared for all the world to see:
A Light to enlighten the nations,
    and the glory of your people Israel.

love to you both from the three of us,

Mary

Monday, January 1, 2018

Christmas 1 - Mary letter 29


Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

it has been just over a week since the birth of Jesus. He is growing stronger every day, and I am healing well. We are still in the stable, but the weather has been fair and mild. The animals have been spending nights tethered outside instead of in with us. That makes things much more pleasant. I am a little unsettled though. I had a dream that disturbed me and made me sit and think this morning very early, while Joseph was still asleep. It was a dream where the angel appeared to me, and oh, how I remember that moment so vividly! That life changing moment! It changed everything for me. Dreaming again of that moment, it seemed as if I was still at home, still secure, no baby or husband and obviously no stable! I awoke with a sense of anxiety for the coming days, although I do not remember why. The angel had more to say to me but I woke up! I wanted to hear him again but I could not return to sleep.

We are hoping to return home soon, as I am healing quite quickly and the baby is sturdy and strong. Mama and Papa sent a letter with great hope and joy to see him. They want to celebrate when we arrive home. The roman population here celebrated rather loudly last night. It seems that it is their new year, and they drink and party like fools. Maybe that is why I was disturbed in sleep, but somehow there seemed more to it. God is doing a new thing with us and sometimes I am clueless as to how to live and go forward. Pray that I am able to go forward with faith.

much love,

Mary